March 8, 2013

Renowned artist Theaster Gates spearheading new arts space to support

local artists-in-residence, community partnerships and cultural engagement on Chicago’s South Side

Debut exhibition, “Feedback,” will run March 8 – April 27

CHICAGO (March 8, 2013)—The University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life initiative today opened its new Arts Incubator in the Washington Park neighborhood—providing a dedicated space for artists to grow professionally and build creative connections with the surrounding community.

The newly renovated Arts Incubator, envisioned by internationally recognized artist and place strategist Theaster Gates, includes 10,000 square feet of studio space for artists-in-residence, a woodshop for design apprenticeship programming, and additional program space for exhibitions and events. The Arts Incubator, located at 301 E. Garfield Boulevard, is housed in a two-story, terra cotta building dating to the 1920s.

“The University’s commitment to expanding our work in the arts takes many forms and our new Arts Incubator is the most recent addition to this arts fabric,” said University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer. “It will provide a venue for artists, particularly those from the South Side communities, their work and experimentation, and their interaction with the University of Chicago faculty, students, and staff. We believe this will be an important addition to both the University and the South Side.”

The Arts Incubator’s programs include an atypical artist residency program, which unites professional development opportunities for artists with the University’s efforts to enhance the cultural amenities of the Washington Park community. The program, presented in partnership with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at UChicago, garnered more than 150 applications this year, and is a much-needed opportunity for Chicago-based artists, according to Gates.

“Artists need space and resources to deepen their practices, share their wares, and perform their chops, and communities like Washington Park benefit from new sources of creative energy. That’s why artists are such an essential element of a successful social space,” said Gates, director of the Arts and Public Life initiative. “I’m excited the University of Chicago has embraced this innovative model for community engagement and shown such willingness to think about new ways we can be good neighbors and collaborators on the South Side.”

The incubator is an outgrowth of Gates’ ongoing work with the Rebuild Foundation and Dorchester Projects, creative redevelopment projects designed to revitalize abandoned properties in Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood and throughout the Midwest. The Arts Incubator building, which was originally a Walgreen’s drugstore, sat unused for nearly 20 years. The University purchased the property in 2008 and invested $1.85 million in renovations. The incubator also received a $400,000 grant from ArtPlace, an organization that supports creative placemaking efforts across the United States.

“The University of Chicago is committed not only to supporting healthy, vibrant communities on the South Side, but also to pioneering new kinds of engagement with our neighbors,” said Derek Douglas, the University’s vice president for Civic Engagement. “Projects like the Arts Incubator, which melds culture and community in novel ways, are integral to that mission.”

“The Arts Incubator is a great new addition to Garfield Boulevard and all of Washington Park, bringing new vitality to the area around the Green Line Garfield “L” station,” said 4th Ward Alderman Pat Dowell. “The renovation of this beautiful terra cotta building and the activity that will happen there will serve as both an example and a catalyst for what is possible on this historic boulevard.”

“We congratulate Theaster Gates and the University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life initiative on the opening of this exciting new arts space,” said Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “The Arts Incubator will elevate and expand the cultural assets of the Washington Park neighborhood, foster cultural innovation, and help the City attract and retain artists and creative professionals in Chicago—all of which are priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan.”

The Arts Incubator is the signature project of the Arts and Public Life initiative. Arts and Public Life was created in 2011 and aims to foster collaboration and conversation between the University and the civic, cultural and artistic communities of the South Side.

“Through Arts and Public Life and the Arts Incubator, the University of Chicago can help build on the South Side’s rich history of artistic excellence,” said Larry Norman, deputy provost for the arts. “We are exceptionally fortunate to have someone with Theaster’s talent, thoughtfulness and profound commitment to community leading this effort.”

In addition to the artist residency program, the Arts Incubator’s projects and activities include:

  • Exhibitions, performances and other public programming
  • Arts education, including a design apprenticeship program for teens and adults in neighboring communities, providing resources and skills training for redevelopment and beautification projects along Garfield Boulevard
  • Ongoing partnerships and engagement with South Side arts and civic organizations including the Washington Park Consortium, South East Chicago Commission, KLEO (Keep Loving Each Other) Community Family Life Center, Urban Gateways Center for Arts Education, and the Washington Park Chamber of Commerce
  • Open hours for the public on Mondays from noon-3 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3-6 p.m. and during public programs and events

The five Chicago-based artists-in-residence at the Arts Incubator for 2012-2013 are musician LeRoy Bach, photographer Cecil McDonald Jr., musician Tomeka Reid, filmmaker Cauleen Smith and writer avery r. young. Each received an honorarium of $10,000 and will have access to UChicago’s world-class academic and research resources during their residency.

The Arts Incubator’s first exhibition, Feedback, engages with the concepts of collaboration, dialogue and exchange. Comprised of artwork, various programs and a public dinner, it begins within the confines of the first floor exhibition space and reverberates into the Washington Park community through acts of publicly displayed works and performances. Smith’s Park Interiors: 17 Possible Directions, silkscreened wallpaper adhering to the exterior of buildings from 118-132 E. Garfield Boulevard, is currently on view. Feedback runs from Mar. 8-Apr. 27 and features the work of Terry Adkins, Blanche Bruce, Alexandria Eregbu, Nyeema Morgan, Abbéy Odunlami, and Kamau Patton, as well as artists-in-residence McDonald and Smith.

For a full schedule of public events at the Arts Incubator and more information on how to participate, visit http://arts.uchicago.edu/artsandpubliclife/ai.
For press images, please visit: http://bit.ly/YOUcVz
For video and embed code, please visit: http://youtu.be/AlKldwUqLIY

About Theaster Gates
Gates is an internationally recognized artist whose work has been featured at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, Germany, and London’s White Cube Gallery. Gates was recently awarded the inaugural Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, honored by the Wall Street Journal as Arts Innovator of the Year 2012, and commissioned as the Armory Show Artist 2012. USA Artists named him as the USA Kippy Fellow 2012. His second solo show at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art will open in May.

About Arts and Public Life
Arts and Public Life builds creative connections on Chicago’s South Side through artist residencies, arts education, and artist-led projects and events. Public events and exhibitions led by resident and visiting artists, as well as campus and community partners, take place at the Arts Incubator, the Logan Center, and in the surrounding neighborhoods. These programs will act as catalysts for collaboration and exchange, creating dynamic and critical creative spaces. For more information on Arts and Public Life, visit https://arts.uchicago.edu/artsandpubliclife.

About UChicago Arts
The University of Chicago launched an ambitious suite of new initiatives and programs to enhance the existing UChicago Arts landscape. These include the Arts and Public Life initiative and its flagship project, the Arts Incubator in Washington Park, the Richard Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. The initiatives join academic departments and programs in the Division of the Humanities and the College, as well as professional organizations including the Court Theatre, Oriental Institute Museum, Smart Museum of Art, Renaissance Society, and University of Chicago Presents, and more than 60 student arts organizations, in forging an integrative model for practice, presentation, and scholarship.

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MEDIA CONTACT
Ronia Holmes
University of Chicago
Interim Associate Director of Communications
roniamh@uchicago.edu
773.834.0481

UPCOMING ARTS AND PUBLIC LIFE EVENTS

Arts Incubator Open House
Date: Friday, March 8
Time: 3-6 pm
Location: Arts Incubator 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Cost: Free
Co-sponsor: University of Chicago Arts, Office of Civic Engagement

Arts and Public Life celebrates the opening of the Arts Incubator in Washington Park with performances and tours of the newly renovated 1920s building. Feedback, an exhibition of visual art and various programs happening within the confines of the Arts Incubator and reverberating into the Washington Park community in the form of public art and performance, will be on view.

Performances:
3-5 pm  Triple Trios (drones for drummers), with incubator artist-in-residence LeRoy Bach, featuring Mikel Avery, Dan Bitney, David Hilliard, Khari Lemuel and Rob Mazurek
5-5:30 pm Ironing Out The Kinks by Alexandria Eregbu
5:30-6 pm KLEO presents Lyric Squad and FLO (For Ladies Only)

Exhibition: Feedback
Date: March 8–April 28
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Cost: Free
Hours: Monday 12-3 pm; Wednesday 3-6 pm

Feedback is an exhibition that engages with the concepts of collaboration, dialogue and exchange. Comprised of artwork, various programs and a public dinner, it begins in the first floor exhibition space and reverberates into the Washington Park community in the form of public art and performance. Featured artists include Terry Adkins, Blanche Bruce, Alexandria Eregbu, Cecil McDonald, Jr., Nyeema Morgan, Abbéy Odunlami, Kamau Patton and Cauleen Smith

Ironing Out the Kinks
Alexandria Eregbu
(part of Feedback, March 8–April 28)
Date: Friday, March 8
Performance: 5-5:30 pm
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Cost: Free

Ironing Out the Kinks is a durational endurance performance that complicates the relationship between the Black female figure and the patriarchal gaze. The piece examines this relationship through the constructed lens of ideal beauty, domesticity, and black hair identity. The title of the performance refers to the performer’s gestures and metaphorically redirects the audience’s attention to an introspective critique of gender, race, and the role of identity within American culture.

Off the Record: A Listening Party
Performance by ONO
Date: Saturday, March 9
Time: 8-11 pm
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Cost: Free

Co-sponsor: Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Elastic Arts Foundation, Saki, Rebuild Foundation

"To this day" is an expression that ONO lead singer (and occasional pedal steel player) Travis Dobbs (better known as simply "Travis") likes to use whenever he's talking about something that has survived a long time, or remained unchanged. If it made an impact on him twenty years ago, he will enthusiastically add that the feeling lingers to this day. This simple three-word phrase probably sums up the career of ONO, a floating collective of, for lack of a better term, art-rockers (their challenging drone/noise compositions have been called "art damage," their concerts have always incorporated performance art, and Travis is a fixture in Chicago's arts scene). ONO may have changed members periodically over the last three decades or so, but the band has kept two members at the very core: singer Travis and guitarist P. Michael (Grego). While the band seemed to have its greatest visibility in the early 80s, the two men insist that ONO is an ongoing concern that never broke up and never stops, right up to this day.

Friday Night Live
Date: Friday, March 15
Time: 8:30-10:30 pm
Frequency: 3rd Friday of every month
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Program: Open Mic
Cost: Free

High schoolers and twenty-somethings comprise most of the audience at Friday Night Live, and the performances showcase both heavy hip-hop beats and flow from up-and-coming South Siders as well as romantic R&B. The emcee, Tobias Pitman, is as entertaining and animated as hosts come.

Remembering Fred
Date: March 17
Time: 5-8 pm
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Program: Film screening and performance
Cost: Free

Remembering Fred is an evening of video and live performance celebrating the musical genius of the great Fred Anderson. It will begin with the presentation of video footage of Anderson performing, and turn into an open jam session. Throughout the evening, audience members and musicians will be invited to share words about Fred and their Velvet Lounge experience. Local musicians who either performed alongside Anderson or who “grew up” at the Velvet Lounge will read selected writings aloud during the performance. 

Diasporal Vertigo in Contemporary Art
Date: Thursday, March 21
Time: 6 pm
Location: Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave, Chicago, IL 60615
Program: Artist Talk
Participants: Cauleen Smith, Valorie Thomas and Candida Alvarez
Cost: Free
Co-sponsor: University of Chicago Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture; Hyde Park Art Center

Author and cultural scholar Valorie Thomas will talk with CSRPC/APL artist-in-residence Cauleen Smith and painter Candida Alvarez about the their artwork. Both Smith and Alvarez are exhibiting their work concurrently in solo exhibitions at the Hyde Park Art Center.

Valorie D. Thomas is an Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies at Pomona College, in Claremont, California, where she teaches literature and social justice. Her writing has been included in Black Cool (edited by Rebecca Walker, 2012) and she is currently writing a book on indigenous spirituality and sacred space in African Diaspora film and literature.

School Matinee
Date: Friday, March 22
Time: 10:30-11:30 am
Location: Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637
Program: Performance
Age: Students 9-12
Cost: Free
Co-sponsor: Logan Center, University of Chicago Presents

Fulcrum Point New Music Project engages elementary students with interactive world sounds and AFRO BEATS.

Logan Center Family Saturdays
Date Saturday, March 23
Time: 2-4 pm
Location: Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637
Program: Family Arts Workshops & Concert
Cost: Concerts $10 for adults and $5 for ages 17 and under; Workshops are free and registration is recommended: ticketsweb.uchicago.edu
Co-sponsor: Logan Center, University of Chicago Presents

Family-friendly matinee performance by Fulcrum Point New Music Project: AFRO BEATS, and interactive workshops (for ages 2-14) with local artists and arts organizations, academic departments, and student organizations.

BOOMscat   
Date: Friday, April 5
Time: 7 pm
Doors: 6:30 pm
Location: Café Logan, Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637
Cost: $7; $5 w/ UChicago ID
Co-sponsor: Logan Center

Open mic poetry, music, and performance featuring DC based duo Jennifer Patience Rowe & Asha "BOOMCLAK" Santee of BOOMscat! BOOMscat is a soul, R&B, body rollin' duo of women changing lives, one note at a time.

Situations #5
Abbéy Odunlami
(part of Feedback, March 8–April 28)
Date: Friday, April 12
Time: 5-9 pm
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637

Situations are interactive 5-course meals prepared and enjoyed in public spaces in Chicago. Odunlami cooks dinner and engages a largely accidental, multi-ethnic and multi-generational audience in dialogues that they otherwise may not have. The guests are invited to stay for one course, after which they leave the table and another participant is invited to join. Other situations have been held at the Logan Square Blue Line and the Chicago Loop Alliance Pop-Up Art Loop storefront spaces.

Off the Record: A Listening Party
Performance by Kelan Phil Cohran
Date: Saturday, April 13
Time: 8-11 pm
Frequency: Ongoing
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Program: Performance
Cost: Free

Co-sponsor: Department of Cultural Affairs and Special  Events (DCASE), Elastic Arts Foundation, Saki, Rebuild Foundation

Born in 1927 in Oxford, Mississippi, Philip Cohran played with Sun Ra’s Arkestra and co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) before establishing the Afro-Arts Theater in 1967. Chinese Muslims bestowed the honorific title Kelan on him on a tour of China in 1991.

Friday Night Live
Date: Friday, April 19
Time: 8:30-10:30 pm
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Program: Open Mic
Cost: Free

High schoolers and twenty-somethings comprise most of the audience at Friday Night Live, and the performances showcase both heavy hip-hop beats and flow from up-and-coming South Siders as well as romantic R&B. The emcee, Tobias Pitman, is as entertaining and animated as hosts come.

Black Bottom Boulevard
Cecil McDonald, Jr.
(part of Feedback, March 8–April 28)
Date: Friday, April 26
Time: 12:30-1 pm
Location: Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd (55th & Prairie Ave), Chicago, IL 60637
Cost: Free

In attempt to harness the regenerative, transformative, social and transcendent powers of dance, McDonald will stage a public performance, to happen in short intervals, in the windows of the Arts Incubator. The expectation is that visitors and passerby will be surprised, entertained, and ultimately inspired by the spectacle of moving bodies in the public square.

Logan Center Family Saturdays
Date: Saturday, April 2
Time: 2-4 pm
Location: Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637
Program: Family Arts Workshops
Cost: Free, registration is recommended: ticketsweb.uchicago.edu
Co-sponsor: Logan Center, University of Chicago Presents

An afternoon of family-friendly interactive arts workshops (for ages 2-14) with local artists and arts organizations, academic departments, and student organizations. Workshops include Lego animation, First Steps with Hyde Park School of Dance, Camp DJ with Master Mix Academy, and more.

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